Klonoa Review: Is He A Cat Or A Rabbit?
Video game remakes have been occurring more and more this console generation than ever before. With the advent of Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, it’s become extremely easy, and less risky for publishers to reach into their back catalogs and push out a rehashed “classic” from the mid 1980s. Some are better than others, but all of them prey on the sense of nostalgia that is virtually omnipresent in gamers over the age of 22. And that works because a lot of the games that have been re-released, your “Pac-Man”s and your “Galaga”s, are games that people are lifelong fans of, but does that same theory work when the game in question isn’t as well known as “Dig Dug”? Well, Namco Bandai (coincidentally the publisher of all of the aforementioned games) has set out to answer that question with the re-release of the lesser known PS1 game, “Klonoa.”
The story of “Klonoa” is your standard something-bad-happened-and-we-need-to-investigate-it tale that every gamer should be used to by now. You play as the titular character Klonoa as he adventures around his world, Phantomile, trying to find the cause of a mysterious crash near his home. As Klonoa goes through the levels, he is follow by his floaty ring spirit friend Hewpoe, who’s basically there just helps the story progress. Overall, the plot, story, cutscenes and everything else about the world are pretty forgettable, but that’s okay, because the game looks pretty, and the gameplay makes up for that.
Ah sidescrolling platformers; they’re a genre that once saturated the games market, with both good and bad games. However, as the go-to for any licensed property that needed a quick-and-dirty product the genre has fizzled out over the last 20 years, and now it’s little more than the starting point for a host of different, more technologically advanced games. The once multitudinous platformers of years past are now relegated mostly to only a couple of releases a year, and mostly on handheld systems. With that said, it was refreshing to play “Klonoa” on the Wii, because I can only really think of one other sidescrolling platformer on the system that’s worth playing (hint: it stars Wario), so it was good to get into a game that had its roots in games gone past – but that may have been because it was one.
There’s nothing ground breaking about the jumping or puzzle solving in “Klonoa,” but it is a pleasure to play a game that gets both of them right. The gist of the combat in the game steps away from jumping on enemies, and puts a focus on grabbing and throwing them, which is nice, because its proof that not everyone in video games wears magic killing shoes. Once Klonoa has grabbed an enemy, he can then use it to throw at other enemies, or at elements in the game. The tricky thing about this game, though, is that he can throw them into the game’s foreground, as well as its background, hitting targets, enemies and objects along the way. Again, it’s fun, but nothing really new here.
The audio and visuals in the game were both bright and colorful, as it’s pretty obviously aimed at younger gamers, and, undeniably, longtime fans of the series. Everything has been updated for this re-release, taking full advantage of the technological advances in graphics since the PS1. The cutscenes and voice overs are all new as well, making this release a more than just a new coat of paint. Fans of the original will be happy to give the game another go with the new look.
While “Klonoa” is a solid, fun game, this version does have a few shortcomings… one of them being that it is short. Fortunately, this updated version does include some extra, exclusive content, and while it’s not a whole lot, at least it’s still there. Namco Bandai could have gone the route of not including any additional content, and just re-releasing the original game, with nothing else, hoping to introduce the series to a new gamers, and ignore the original fans of the series. But they didn’t, and this package should be good for at least one nostalgic run through of the game… well, maybe two if you want to try it in Reverse Mode. In another wise move Namco didn’t force the Wii’s motion controls into the game. While they are there, they aren’t a requirement to play, and, in fact, “Klonoa” offers pretty much every conceivable control scheme possible on the Wii, and it’s always a good thing to offer people options. One other problem with the game is that it will be on the easy side for gaming’s seasoned veterans; as long as you know how to jump from one platform to another, avoiding pits, you should have no trouble with “Klonoa.”
I never had a chance to play the original “Klonoa,” but I’m almost certain I would have enjoyed it, since I’m a big fan of 2D platformers (can’t shake that nostalgia), and the PS1 was, for all intents and purposes, devoid of one of my favorite genres. However, I don’t think that I would have liked the original just because it fit into a genre-specific hole that needed filling. No, it would have been because, at the time, it added an extra half dimension to the game, pushing the envelope, and making it a 2.5D platformer. This remake doesn’t push that envelope any further, but it does reintroduce an enjoyable game to a whole new audience, and regardless of whether or not there’s anything really new here, (fortunately there is) that’s a great thing, and “Klonoa” is a great game.
“Klonoa” was released on May 5th, 2009 by Namco Bandai for the Nintendo Wii.